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Saraki Gate: Turning serious charges of fraud into trivia

For the umpteenth time yesterday in Abuja, Senate President Bukola Saraki and his lawyers met a stern resolve by the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) to prosecute Nigeria’s No.3 citizen over his alleged assets declaration fraud despite his desperate attempts to pervert the course of justice.

The Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) ruled that it would continue hearing the case of Saraki’s financial misconduct, despite an appeal filed in the Supreme Court, which Saraki hoped, would halt the CCT proceedings. Technically speaking that was Saraki’s third attempt to stop the case.

During the last 16 years of the Peoples Democratic Party dominant rule, many accused persons like Saraki were able to halt court proceedings against them. Indeed some high court judges gave rulings that ridiculed the Nigerian judiciary. Some of them gave perpetual injunctions that prevented any other court or security agency from trying or probing or extraditing certain accused persons (perceived criminals).

This is the first time in Nigerian’s recent history that a tribunal or court would stubbornly stay on the path of justice despite attempts by highly placed politicians to derail proceedings. Two courts of appeal have already thrown out Saraki’s hustle for a backdoor perversion of justice. Should the Supreme Court do the same, then there would be no hiding place for Saraki, and Nigerians as well as the whole world may begin to take our judicial system serious again.

Saraki is facing a 13-count charge bordering on alleged corruption and false declaration of assets. Nobody has pronounced Saraki guilty yet and he really should just defend himself in court and clear his name rather than runaround in circles. Let’s look at some of the highlights of Sarakigate…

According to Sahara Reporters, Nigeria’s senators were sent a text message inviting them to accompany Saraki to the Code of Conduct Tribunal.

“Gdevenin Distinguished. Wish to inform dt Buses are available 2moro mrnin to convey Senators wishing to accompany H/E d Senate President. Departure is at 9 am frm d house @ 22 Yesderam Str. by IGP’s House Maitama. Rgrds. -Arthur (dir. of Prot. S/P).”

From Day One of Saraki’s CCT drama, a host of senators have been active dramatis personae too. It is not clear how best to describe them; sympathizers or cohorts? The effect of this has been that everyday Saraki has showed up in court, the Senate has been on recess; a silly waste of taxpayers funds.

On Thursday November 5, Saraki’s lawyers, Messrs Ahmed Magaji and Ahmed Raji, (SAN) staged a walk out of the tribunal after the special court refused to suspend the trial to allow the Supreme Court rule on the matter.

The CCT Chairman, Justice Danladi Umar then ruled that Saraki would do well to hire new lawyers or accept a lawyer from the court. Saraki asked for a month to prepare his defence, whereas the prosecution counsel, Rotimi Jacob (SAN), preferred just 11 days. The CCT adjourned by 14 days to November 19.

Saraki’s Magaji and Raji described Justice Danladi Umar’s firm stance as “judicial rascality” but at HAMILTONSTYLE we see him as an emerging judicial icon who is not intimidated by political rascality. We can only hope and pray for justice’s sake that there are no rascals in the Supreme Court.

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